Curl Well and Prosper

Happy Lunar New Year!

After an unstable Year of the Rabbit, we can look forward a year of positive change.

May you have an auspicious Year of the Water Dragon!

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Traditions

We don’t have a lot of traditions here at Curl Nation.  The only tradition we seem to be good at is the daily cocktail tradition, but that is perhaps less of a tradition and more of a lifestyle.

Anyway, there is one thing that has become a tradition in my life, and that is what I eat on the morning of December 25:  blueberry buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, bacon, sausage, eggs, and orange juice.

I know that for a lot of people, this day is some sort of holiday celebrating the birth of some dude, but for me, it’s the anniversary of the day I first arrived in the United States.  I’m maybe one of the least sentimental people I know, and yet, I have this same breakfast on this same day every single year.

When I was a kid, I would wake up to the smell of bacon cooking and walk into the kitchen rubbing sleep boogers from my eyes to see my dad flipping pancakes on a big electric griddle.  The blueberries were always ones we had hand-picked ourselves over the summer, and the maple syrup was always local – either from a neighbor’s farm, or even a few times, syrup my dad had made himself from sap he had collected the previous spring.  The elderly Finnish couple who lived across the street who were like my grandparents would come over and bring sausage.  I’d pick out the pancakes with the most blueberries to put on my plate and my mom would try to persuade me to eat some eggs and I would try to persuade her to let me eat more sausage instead.  Although we often had pancakes on Saturdays when I was growing up, this breakfast, this particular breakfast on the 25th, which was always the same and actually quite ordinary, was the most special and cherished breakfast of the year.  No one ever suggested that we have something different, and even when my dad went through a prolonged experimentation phase with his pancakes (let me tell you that English green pea pancakes are kind of gross), even then he didn’t deviate from the standard menu.

These days, the pancakes aren’t exactly the same as the ones my dad used to make.  Sparklepants adds a bit of lemon zest to the pancake batter and whips the egg whites, and I might have some champagne in my orange juice, but essentially it’s still the same, often including maple syrup from my hometown.

It’s still my favorite and most cherished breakfast of the year.

 

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Warm Muffins for Cold Mornings

Sparklepants and I recently came back from Curl Nation Tropical Outpost #2 aka Hawaii.  It was warm and lovely there, with snorkeling and swimming in saltwater pools heated by the volcano and tennis playing and sea turtles and poke and general Hawaii goodness.  We are sad that TO#2 will be shutting down indefinitely since the folks there are moving to the Big Apple, but we’re looking forward to testing out the curl-worthiness of NYC.

As you can imagine, getting off the plane in 28 degree weather was a bit of a shock.  Good thing we’re soon headed for a visit with First Mate who is holding down Tropical Outpost #1.  And these little (actually quite large) muffins are the perfect thing to warm up our insides while evoking a bit of anticipation for our impending trip to the birthplace of maize.

Blueberry Corn Muffins

Makes 6 Large Muffins.

Ingredients

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
½ cup butter, melted and cooled (or oil or combination)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1-2 tablespoons demerara sugar for sprinkling
 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line an oversize 6-muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a 2-cup liquid measure, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.
  5. Fold buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients until just mixed.
  6. Fold in blueberries.
  7. Fill each liner ¾ full. Sprinkle tops of muffins with demerara sugar.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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Monday Blues

People who work a J-O-B job seem to dislike Mondays.  Poor Monday.  Curlers, on the other hand, place no particular value on any day of the week, since any day is just as likely to be a part of a “weekend” as any other.  But anyway, here’s a song from my favorite Blues album of the year (and a few other non-Blues albums that are on my list of this year’s favorites) for your Monday pleasure.

Booker T. Jones – The Road From Memphis

Blues.  Not your grandparents blues for sure, but bluesy in a modern sort of way.  This album brings on some awesome guest artists, including another favorite of mine, Sharon Jones of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings.

website | buy on amazon | itunes

Blue Scholars – Cinemetropolis

This album is Hip-hop brilliance.  Every track is so smart and musically on point.  Take “Oskar Barnack ∞ Oscar Grant” which juxtaposes two people who share a name: the father of 35 mm photography and the Oakland man who was shot by the police in the back of the head and captured by camera phones, and opens with the clicks and whrrs of an old manual 35mm.  See?  Brilliant.  My emotional favorite by far though, is “Yuri Kochiyama.”

website | buy on bandcamp

We Invented Paris – We Invented Paris

Catchy Euro-Indie Pop.  They’ve only been around for a year or so, but their debut album sounds as cohesive as if they’d been together a lot longer.  Do all indie-rockers look like they are from Portland, OR no matter where they are actually from?

website | buy on bandcamp

Generationals – Actor-Caster

Catchy Indie Rock.  This duo from New Orleans retains a lot of the 50’s inspired melodies of their lo-fi-esque debut, but their current album is more cohesive and better produced resulting in a cleaner sound and an irresistible urge to break out into the twist.

website | buy on amazon

Depapepe – ONE 

Acoustic guitar duo from Japan.  They rock out as much as 2 Japanese guys can without electricity and words.

website | buy on amazon

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Curlpacking: Annette Lake

To commemorate the best date that will happen in my lifetime, which was 11/11/11, I suggested that we all go backpacking for a nice, leisurely fall trip:

Me:  Are we actually going to leave today?

Sparklepants:  Sure, maybe.  We still have to get our gear together.

Sunnykins:  Do we know where we are going yet?

Sparklepants:  I was going to look up some hikes.

Sunnykins:  Why don’t we just leave tomorrow?

Me:  Great idea.  Who wants a drink?

Sunnykins:  Is this the trail?

Sparklepants:  Where is the trail?

Me:  The trail guide says go to the right.

Sparklepants:  We went the the left because you said to go to the left.

Sunnykins:  This doesn’t seem like the trail.

Me:  I think this is the nature trail.

Sparklepants:  We just went in a fucking circle.

Sunnykins:  How much further?

Sparklepants:  I didn’t realize it was going to be snowing this hard.

Sunnykins:  Fuck you, switchbacks!

Me:  It’s pretty though, right?

Sunnykins:  I’m totally soaked through.

Me:  Me too.  My raincoat doesn’t work either.

Sunnykins:  Did it just stop working?

Me:  No, but I wanted to give it another chance.

Sunnykins:  How many chances have you given it?

Me:  3?

Sunnykins:  Did you treat it or anything to try to make it more waterproof in between?

Me:  No.

Sunnykins:  I don’t understand how you could expect it to start working then.

Me:  It does seem illogical when you put it that way.

Texting to the crew:

Sunnykins: We’re alive! At Twede’s Cafe.

[Sidebar:  Twede’s is apparently home to the famous Twin Peaks Cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee.”

I can’t speak to the coffee, but the pie sucks.  Don’t order the pie if you ever go there.  End Sidebar.]

First Mate: Glad you guys are safe.  You know the cops were looking for you right?

Me:  Are you for reals?

First Mate: Found your car.  Thought something might have happened to you.

Sunnykins: At the trailhead? What?

Telephone call to the Sheriff’s office:

Sheriff:  Someone reported they saw your car abandoned at the trailhead.

Me:  It wasn’t abandoned.

Sheriff:  Where are you?

Me: I’m at home.

Sheriff:  Is your car still out there?

Me:  No, we drove it back.

Sheriff:  Did you set off flares this morning?  Someone set off flares this morning.  Was it you?

Me:  No.

Sheriff:  Ok.  We’ll call you again if we need to.

This leaves me with some questions:

  1. What does it mean, “we’ll call you again if we need to”?  Why would the Sheriff need to call me again?
  2. Shouldn’t the Sheriff’s office be out looking for the person or group who actually did set off the flares this morning?
  3. Why would someone report a car at a well known backpacking trailhead as abandoned when it was parked there for less that 24 hours?  (Granted, I will admit the weather conditions would indicate that only the most foolhardy would willingly camp in a blizzard.  But still.  This is the Pacific Northwest, home to REI, and plenty of intrepid outdoor recreationalists.)
  4. If an establishment is going to claim fame for something like cherry pie, why wouldn’t that establishment take care to ensure that said cherry pie is actually something which deserves fame?
  5. Why do waterproof raincoats with a lifetime guarantee stop being waterproof in much less time than a lifetime?
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Reflections on Occupation

We strive to keep this blog shallow light.  A place where we can take a break from all that weighs on our minds and daily lives; a place where we curlax.  

But sometimes, we find ourselves at a moment in time where there is a call for everyone to think and act outside of themselves.  To make that extra effort, to speak out, to do something brave and courageous, to care.  From the Arab Spring to general strikes in Europe to Occupy Wall Street, the world is at one such moment.

I, perhaps like a lot of other Americans, have a complicated relationship with the holiday generally referred to as “Thanksgiving.”  Some of it is tied up in Normon Rockwell notions of family and the pressures and stresses that go along with that.  Some of it is the dread of the Macy’s parade which officially kicks off the Christmas consumerism that hijacks this country for a month.

But mostly, I detest Thanksgiving because of the holiday itself, and what a complete lie it is.  I don’t know how to fulfill my family obligations of the day and at the same time acknowledge the brutal history that it is based on.  How do I, as a conscientious person, live with the inherent conflict that my life today is built on the genocide of indigenous peoples and the continued occupation of Native lands?  And then to “celebrate” it?  It’s a holiday that commemorates the the ugly consequences of colonialism, all behind a veneer of warm and fuzzy friendship and love.  The hypocrisy is agonizing.  Yet I do it.  And I hate it.

I also really do not like turkey.  When I was vegetarian, I would eat stuffing for my entire meal.  Now that I eat meat, I’m expected to actually eat the turkey and then I have to look like I enjoy it. Maybe I’ll be an honorary vegetarian, just for today.  But then what about the bacon I had this morning for breakfast?

Anyway, this Thanksgiving, the Occupy movement is ever present.  We all need to remember the implications of what “occupy” means, who the original occupiers were, and that most of us (the 98.3% of us who are not Native) continue to be occupiers.  Although we can’t go back and change history, we do have the power to change this particular moment in history.

Whose land do you live on?  I live on the Native lands of the Duwamish, and I am their (uninvited) guest.

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Oh Canada!

A couple months ago, Sparklepants and I took a little trip to the land of our northern neighbor to canoe the Bowron Lakes Circuit.

It’s a roughly rectangular route of 80+ miles of lakes, rivers, and portages on the west side of the Canadian Rockies.

We gave ourselves 8 days.  We ended up doing it in 5 and a half.  Because we’re crazy like that.

To get ready for 80+ miles of canoeing a combination of lakes and rivers, Sparklepants decided we should train all summer, working on increasing our endurance and also our technical skills.

This involved regularly paddling 10-15 miles at a time, which, in the middle of summer on a calm lake, was pretty easy.

We also went down a local Class II+ river where ultimately our canoe got stuck on a deadhead in the middle of the river, we barely escaped alive, and we had to call Midnight Baker and Sunnykins to come rescue us.  That was not so easy.

Anyway, good thing that there are no real Class II sections on the Bowron Lakes Circuit, eh?

The only part that could be maybe classed at all is called “the Chute” and it lies at one of the corners of the circuit.

Luckily, it’s really just a fun little blip, because there is no “phone a friend” out on the circuit.

There are only a few emergency telephones if you need to reach a park ranger and the only way out, if you can’t paddle out, is by helicopter.

The weather is very mercurial out there, and we experienced conditions ranging from hail to thunder and lightening storms to sunny and mild to crazy windy and rainy.

A few times in some gale force winds, we felt like we were going backwards despite paddling like our life depended on it.  Which actually, it did.

The scenery is incredible.  With 4500 people canoeing the circuit each year, it’s amazing that the environment remains so pristine.

Would we do it again?  You betcha.

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